Even though I have officially graduated from the program, I cannot practice as an FNP. I need to get certified and licensed by the state of Connecticut. Unlike the NCLEX for RNs, there are two different tests that are offered by two different accrediting bodies to obtain certification. Certification by one of the two accrediting bodies is required in 48 of the 50 United States. California and New York do not require certification to practice as an A.P.R.N. I live less than an hour from N.Y.C. and have considered skipping the test and commuting into the city. Unfortunately, even though certification is not required in NY, most of the insurance companies won't pay you unless you're certified. (Making it especially difficult to find a job!).
        I am struggling with the decision of which test to take for accreditation. Most of my classmates are taking both exams - something that every NP I talk to says is a waste of time and money. Most employers don't care who certifies you, as long as you are certified. I too have decided that I would like to be accredited by both bodies. My thinking is that if two similarly prepared NPs are applying for a job, the candidate with two certifications has an edge. At the very least I think it shows ambition and drive - plus a few extra letters after your name. The problem is the added expense and the thought of having to endure taking two exams is almost unbearable.
         The first accrediting body is the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This is the larger, more widely recognized accredeting body. They are an extension of the American Nurses Association (ANA). An FNP who passes this exam can use the initials FNP-BC after his/her name. (or ANP-BC for adult nurse practitioners). So far I can tell you that their application is much more involved. There is a 10 question section that must be completed and signed by the program director from my school. I handed it in nice and early to ensure it would be completed. Unfortunately, the only thing I got back was 10 blank questions with a signature on the bottom. Lesson number 1 - make sure the form is actually filled out prior to getting it back. My fault for not checking! Now I need to chase down the director to find out who accredits the FNP program, which classes met each requirement, etc
          The second accrediting body is the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Until recently, their accreditation was not recognized by all 50 states. (Their letters are "NP-C" after the APRN's name). Other than a much simpler 2-page application, the AANP is very similar in terms of exam process, level of difficulty and cost. I did, however discover a little bit of a loophole in the process. (My obsessive reading and endless hours of online searching may pay off after all!) It seems that the AANC will grant reciprocity to APRNs accredited by the AANP. In other words, if I take and successfully pass the AANP exam, all I need to do is submit an (abbreviated) application to the ANCC and I will be accredited - NO EXAM REQUIRED. So what I've done so far is submitted my application to the AANP. I haven't done anything with the ANCC.
           The problem I am having is...I am the only one I know, or ever even heard of that has done it this way. It seems like everyone and their mother is taking or has taken the ANCC exam. Am I making a mistake? Am I missing something? I did confirm with BOTH bodies via email the reciprocity thing. The AANP only offers it for NPs who were certified prior to 1995. The ANCC confirmed it and I've downloaded all of the info about it from their site. The information is literally buried on their site and no one ever mentions it - not in the NP program, review courses, review books or on the NP forums. Either I truly am "on to something" here with this reciprocity thing or I am seriously missing something and making a huge mistake. Only time will tell...